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New Uses for Old Things

I love a useful tip just like the rest of ’em.  So here’s a handful that hopefully you’ll find useful too.

  • Repurpose an old frame for a vanity tray that’s pretty as a picture. Place a piece of colored paper or fabric inside as a finishing touch. (Very shabby chic!)
  • A Twister game mat makes a spot-on tablecloth for a child’s birthday party: Sticky spills and icing wash right off.
  • At a party, stash ice in a colander set on top of a bucket or a bowl. Water will drain out, and guests will get only the solid stuff.
  • Stop searching high and low for hair clips and elastics: Store them tidily on an empty TP tube.
  • Pick up interesting cardboard coasters at restaurants and bars you visit along your travels. Punch a hole near the edge, thread some ribbon through, and voilà: homemade gift tag.
  • Chalk is a moisture absorber: Tie up a few pieces in cheesecloth and store them with your good silver to slow any tarnishing.
  • Vegetable oil will put a shine on leather shoes. Use a damp cloth to remove any dirt, then run a soft cloth with a drop of oil over the surface to (literally) add polish.
  • Transform a six-pack holder into a condiment tote that’s ideal for summer picnics.
  • Forget unruly plastic bags that seemingly regenerate under your sink. An empty tissue box keeps them neatly corralled and ready for use.
  • A giveaway shower cap becomes the perfect wrapper for shoes when traveling, preventing them from dirtying clothes packed in your suitcase.
  • Brand anything as yours?books, binders, Tupperware, a stapler?with a return-address sticker. (Use all those free ones you get in the mail!)
  • A clever way to keep straight whose drink is whose: Mark each glass with removable window decals.
  • A supermarket bag, tightly secured with a rubber band, will keep a brush (or roller) moist for a day or two in between painting sessions: the end of dried-out bristles.
  • No more worries of camisoles and sundresses slipping off hangers when you wrap the ends with rubber bands.
  • A binder clip serves as a key chain/money holder you can clamp to your waistband for a purse-free morning walk.
  • Save a countertop with an old mouse pad turned trivet. (Make sure it has a nonplastic coating.)
  • No more oops! moments when painting, if you cover doorknobs and hardware with aluminum foil. (This would have been good to know when I was painting antique doorknobs 2 years ago!)
  • That straightening iron works on more than rambunctious hair: Use it to press between buttons, where a regular iron won’t fit.
  • When traveling, eliminate clunky bottles for nonprescription meds from your purse by popping the pills into a contact-lens case. (Good idea!  I have about 15 spare contact cases floating around.)
  • Who says a towel rack has to be the dedicated realm of, well, towels? Mounted over (or under) the kitchen sink, it can also hold a collection of cleansers.
  • A clear hair elastic binds blooms together for a better arrangement in a wide-mouth vase. Stretch the elastic around the stems, then let the flowers fall naturally.
  • Make no-mess pancakes with the help of a ketchup bottle: Pour in batter, then squeeze out precise portions.
  • Why pack with Styrofoam peanuts when you can pack with popcorn (plain and air-popped). No air popper? Be sure to cover the item with a plastic bag. (Safe for the environment too!)
  • Warehouse your shoes in an empty wine-bottle carton wrapped in pretty paper. (An excuse to buy more wine? OK!)
  • An unused glasses case makes a convenient storage spot for beauty items on the go.
  • A lemon works to remove tough food stains from a plastic or light-colored wood cutting board. Squeeze on the juice of one half, rub it in, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing.
  • Slide bobby pins onto a hem to hold pleats in place as you iron them. (If only I ironed…)
  • Change dirty water in a flower vase by using a turkey baster to suction up the liquid without disturbing your arrangement. Add fresh water directly from the tap.
  • Silence cabinet doors that slam with cork sliced into thin disks and glued onto the inside corners.
  • Give Easter eggs a year-round use (and save on resealable bags) by filling them with snacks like crackers or Cheerios. (I love fishes ’cause they’re so delicious…)
  • Cut down on the amount of potting soil needed by crumpling plastic bags to fill the bottom of a deep pot (just be sure that you don’t cover the drainage hole, if there is one).
  • Organize bills?arranged in the order in which they need to be paid off?in an unused napkin holder.
  • A paint chip strip makes a dandy place card: Cut off a length of two colors, then fold.
  • Bridge the gap between too-short stems and too-deep vase by sliding on trimmed clear plastic straws.
  • Shower-curtain hooks provide sturdy storage for heavier items, like purses.
  • Attach a magnet to the inside of a metal medicine cabinet, and you can promptly pluck tweezers (or nail clippers) when needed. (Oh!  Good idea!  I’m always losing my tweezers.)

Got any good tips to share too?

Tips from Real Simple.

Jill - February 9, 2010 - 10:25 am

I love a good idea…and this was lots of em in one place 🙂

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